Performance Marketing, How Marketers Use It And What They Plan To Spend

Most companies that participated in the recent survey from Ascend2 said they will increase investments in performance marketing during the next 12 months, but the amount they are willing to spend varies depending on how they will use the media. 

  • 42% -- Plans to increase budgets by up to 20%
  • 29% -- Budgets will not change
  • 18% -- Increase by more than 20%
  • 08% -- Decrease by up to 20%
  • 03% -- Decrease by more than 20%

Forty-five percent of marketers called the importance of performance marketing “significant,” and another 49% called the increase “moderate.”

Some 2% said the importance continues to decrease in significance as it pertains to strategic success. The majority of marketers, at 54%, said they see success from their performance-based initiatives. Some 44% said they are somewhat successful, and 2% are unsuccessful.  

Ascend2 and its research partners fielded The State of Performance Marketing Survey to analyze performance marketing strategies, tactics and technology.



The online questionnaire in the form of a three-minute survey was fielded to a panel of 274 marketing professionals and marketing research subscribers during the week of September 14, 2020.

The most effective channels for performance marketing campaigns include:

  • 69% -- Social media marketing 
  • 49% -- Search engine marketing   
  • 37% -- Ecommerce marketing/advertising
  • 34% -- Partnerships/sponsorships           
  • 27% -- Display advertising   
  • 27% -- Affiliate marketing                       
  • 14% -- Native advertising                        

Half of marketers said they use performance marketing to increase the return on investments (ROIs). Some 44% use performance marketing to improve audience targeting, while 42% use it to increase audience reach, 39% use it to make data-driven decisions, 27% to maximize budgets, 26% to improve measurability, 17% to improve manageability, 13% to increase tactics and program flexibility, and 12 to improve transparency.

Despite success in results, marketers said they face challenges when executing strategies.

Creating a comprehensive strategy presents a challenge for 48% of marketers surveyed. Allocating appropriate budgets is challenging for 45%, while data management silos challenges 37%.

Integration with the customer journey affects 36%, followed by inadequate technology at 32%, multi-touch attribution at 31%, and incremental sales at 22%.

Eighty percent of marketers said they outsource at least a portion of their performance-marketing initiatives, while 77% believe the most effective way to execute a performance marketing strategy is through a combination of in-house and outsourced resources.

Of those surveyed, 20% report keeping all performance-based initiatives in-house.

When looking to outsource to an agency, the most desirable attributes include:

  • 46% -- Responsiveness
  • 46% -- Multichannel expertise
  • 45% -- Innovativeness
  • 38% -- Flexibility
  • 35% -- Data management/privacy
  • 34% -- Integrated execution
  • 18% -- Brand safety
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